I just had my first night of reupholstery class! I’ve been wanting to take this class for a couple of years, but the timing (or economy…) hasn’t been in my favor – but this fall I will be taking this old chair apart, and putting it back together again!
I bought the chair at a flea market down the street from where I lived last time I belonged here in Bergen, some 7 years ago. I remember paying the 75 kr (about $12), thinking it was a steal, and feeling giddy walking home with it balanced on my head. The other night I walked with it on my head again, almost the exact opposite route, to take it to class. After years and years of usage I am so excited to be sprucing it up, and to be doing it thoroughly!
First step was to start removing the fabric, and assess what parts could be saved. My chair is plenty solid in the woodwork, the cardboard backing is fine, and the wool batting at the back is ok. Pretty much everything else is going!
That meant that I removed all pins and nails to get the seat fabric off, as well as the wool and horsehair batting. The horsehair, if it was a larger amount, would have been salvagable, but as a thin layer it appearently just means that the maker of this chair was a bit cheap! Which, maybe isn’t too strange – it is a late 30s or early 40s chair, so I can imagine the maker being mindful of the cost.
Under the downtrodden seat batting, there was a burlap like cushion, stuffed with what looks like hay. I’m not sure it is, but several of the other people in my class found something similar in their own chairs, so whatever it is, it’s normal. Removing another layer of burlap-like fabric because of big worn holes at the front, edges and sides, revealed the springs:
Unfortunately, most of them had to go too. The three 7-coil springs in the back were ok since it’s the point of least stress in the seat, and will be reinstalled. The front 3 rows of coils will all be replaced by new ones. We measured the rows at the top of the coils, so we know what height they get reinstalled at. The final task of the evening was to remove the ribbons at the bottom of the seat, that the coils have been attached to, and my god were they dusty! I could brush away a 1/4″ layer of dust and fabric fuzz! Which reminds me to do a solid vacuuming of the two chairs I still have in the apartment…
This was so much fun! I am beyond excited to be rebuilding this from the ground up, and I find it fascinating to peel away layer upon layer and see how this thing is constructed. For next weeks class I’ll be having a go at the layers of lacquer and stain on the woodwork, removing it the best I can. It involves scraping off layers with a sharp knife, sanding, and washing it down with a chemical solution (outside, mask on), to remove the last dregs. This process is similar to a lot of sewing projects and alterations – it has to look much worse before it gets better!